Monday, November 02, 2015

ACCA Sentence Based on South Carolina Burglary Convictions Vacated

US v. McLeod: McLeod pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm. He was sentenced under the Armed Career Criminal Act based on several prior South Carolina burglary convictions, even though McLeod argued that his convictions did not match the generic definition of burglary. He was sentenced to 188 months in prison.

On appeal, McLeod argued (among other things) that the South Carolina convictions didn't meet the generic definition of burglary with regard to the location involved. The Fourth Circuit agreed and vacated his sentence. The court held that while the South Carolina statute involved burglary of a "building" and "appears at first glance to parrot the language of generic burglary," the term "building" is defined as including "any structure, vehicle, watercraft, or aircraft." The district court could apply the modified categorical approach to determine which type of "building" was involved. However, a closer review of the relevant plea transcript show that McLeod actually pleaded guilty to a different form of burglary, although one with an equally broad definition of the place to be broken into (a "dwelling" instead of a "building"). Because the Government could present no appropriate documents to show which of the various "dwellings" McLeod broke into it could not show that his prior convictions qualified as ACCA predicates.

No comments: